Mirror Breakers: Beating Jeskai Control

Thanks to Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Jeskai Control is in one of the best positions it’s ever been in Modern. In fact, it was the most represented deck at SCG KY.

That said, Control players can expect more mirrors.

Besides hitting consistent land drops and winning counter wars with efficient counters like Dispel, the following are some of the best ways to pressure and beat Jeskai Control with your Control deck:

1. Geist of Saint Traft

Geist of Saint Traft is arguably the best threat to Jeskai’s life total, as it single-handedly puts you in the driver seat for the remainder of the game once you’re untapped. If they board out Supreme Verdict, it’s bad news bears.

Tip: Be careful trying to resolve Geist, especially on the draw. If you have it, be patient and wait until turn four or later to back it up with Dispel to ensure it resolves.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

2. Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds isn’t just for Tron, TitanShift, and Ponza (RG Land Destruction). It’s actually one of the best win conditions vs Control mirrors, particularly Jeskai Control as it typically runs minimal basic lands and most lists aren’t running any Mountain. Make sure to pack at least one Ghost Quarter because it isn’t as effective with Field of Ruin.

Tip: If you’re on the land disruption plan, Cryptic Command can also be used to bounce a land, which can really set them back if they miss any land drops.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

3. Lingering Souls

If there’s one card that’s a thorn in Jeskai’s side, it’s Lingering Souls. It’s a card that gains incremental advantage the longer it’s left unchecked. Counters and most removal are awkward against it, but Izzet Staticaster is their best answer. Mardu’s presence means Staticaster will likely return to their SB.

Tip: Lingering Souls is one of the few spells you’re not concerned jamming and tapping out for vs Control.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

4. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is probably the best planeswalker against mirrors as it can flood the board with 2/2 Knights, can take out opposing walkers on his own, and pressures their life total. While Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is typically lights out, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is more cost efficient, aggressive, and versatile.

Tip: Similarly to Geist of Saint Traft, don’t just jam Gideon. Secondly, only animate him if you have a counter ready for Path to Exile, which includes attacking an opposing walker.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

5. Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

I asked Jonathan Hobbs, 2nd place with Jeskai Control at SCG Louisville, to rate the following creatures 1 to 5 in terms of their effectiveness against Jeskai:

Kitchen Finks – 2
Vendilion Clique (Flash) – 2
Geist of Saint Traft– 5
Restoration Angel (Flash) – 3
Archangel Avacyn (Flash) – 3
Dragonlord Ojutai – 3
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir (Flash) – 4

While Restoration Angel costs 1 less for flash and the same power and toughness as Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Teferi’s ability immediately puts Jeskai in a problematic position, which nullifies their ability to play at instant speed – a crucial element of Jeskai’s design and plan.

Additionally, flash causes issues for Control as it forces them to respond and stretch their mana.  Four toughness is also difficult for Jeskai to deal with beyond Path to Exile and Supreme Verdict.

Tip: You can capitalize on flash by baiting counters to resolve another powerful spell on your turn, like your own Teferi, Hero of Dominaria! If Teferi resolves and sticks, you’ll have the freedom of resolving spells at will.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

Honorable Mention: Rest in Peace

This one is polarizing among Control players, but a significant portion of Jeskai’s gameplan and long-term value is generated from their graveyard, especially via Snap/Bolt/Cryptic and since the inclusion of Search for Azcanta. It also forces them to pay mana for Logic Knot. In other words, Rest in Peace puts a wrench in their efficiency and ability to effectively navigate. In fact, they hardly play any form of graveyard hate in their side these days.

Don’t let Jeskai Control players fool you, Rest in Peace can be a mirror breaker.

An opposing Jeskai deck may counter with the following:

-Francesco Neo Amati